The Cybermen have featured in 22 stories of Doctor Who.
If you really want to wind people up, don't write about budget cuts or school buildings or the world economy. Ask readers to help you compile a list of every Doctor Who villain. Ever. I know because that's what the Guardian's Datablog and Datastore website did last week – with dramatic results.
Doctor Who is made for data. It's the longest-running sci-fi show in Britain, possibly the world. The good doctor has battled monsters and aliens in 769 episodes since William Hartnell's first appearance in 1963. Our project was inspired by a user on the "data visualisation website" Many Eyes. xxnapoleansolo had compiled a list of every Doctor Who villain since the programme was relaunched in 2005. But that wasn't completist enough for us. So we tried asking the BBC for a list. "Good God," a spokeswoman replied. Another press officer came back with the suggestion that, if you really want to get this done, you need to ask the fans. So we did.
I'm not sure the Guardian Datablog has ever had an article re-tweeted on Twitter more than 200 times in 10 minutes before.It spread around the Doctor Who web faster than a Cyber battle fleet; the comments on the article now read like the ultimate distillation of Doctor Who knowledge.
"Being strictly accurate, although they appear, the Ice Warriors don't turn out to be the enemy in the Curse of Peladon," observed @croydonslacker. "Do the Ogrons count as villains in their own right, or because they were always the Big Villain's stooges, are they sort of subsidiary baddies?" piped up @Venebles. "Not that I'm sad, or anything."
The result, inevitably, is still evolving, although no prizes for guessing that the Daleks are number one (32 stories), followed by the Cybermen and The Master (22 stories). As another user noted: "You do realise you will retire with this list uncompleted, don't you?"